Cultures from around the globe showcased at the GRPM Ethnic Heritage Festival

14 partnering exhibitors shared art, food, dress and more.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — After not being able to in 2020, the Grand Rapids Public Museum hosted the return of their Ethnic Heritage Festival. 14 exhibitors shared pieces of cultures from around the globe with museum-goers in an effort to educate.

“This event provides people the opportunity to learn firsthand from these people that either came from those countries or they are direct descendants of people who came from there,” said Alee’a Cherry, a spokesperson for the museum. 

In addition to the exhibitor tables, performances were held in the theater to share dance and song, along with other mediums of cultural expression such as martial arts.

“It’s all very comforting, it’s almost like you have somebody enveloping you with love and warmth and security,” said Myra Maimoh, an immigrant from Cameroon. She says performing at events like this and sharing the traditions she grew up with help her connect with her home thousands of miles away.

She calls it a “two-way learning,” saying that as people ask questions and share stories prompted by a performance or piece of art, they quickly learn they have far more in common than they do different. 

“Instead of just having one day dedicated to one group, it’s truly reflective of the community we live in,” Cherry said. “Grand Rapids is a melting pot of different cultures and traditions.”

For Maimoh, the event is a starting point. She feels more like it needed to be held to spread the many unique cultures that make up West Michigan. Though museums like GRPM host many exhibits, she says face-to-face meetings like the festival provide a more enriching and personal form of education. 

“They get to take that back home,” she said. “At work, in their homes, there’s just so much value in having those relationships.”

For more information on each of the exhibitors at Saturday’s festival, click on the name of each organization:

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Angelia S. Rico

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